First F1 practice delivered the 'wow factor' for Ilott at Portimao

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Callum Ilott certainly felt the "wow factor" after his first Formula 1 practice session at the Portuguese Grand Prix on Friday.

The Ferrari Academy driver was meant to participate in FP1 at last year's Eifel GP, but fog meant that the session was unable to take place.

But under clear skies at Portimao, the Briton, who was recently confirmed as Alfa Romeo's reserve driver for this season, finally got to hit the track, finishing 17th and less than four-tenths behind Kimi Raikkonen.

“Obviously for me, I was still taking it easy as well but it was interesting to experience it," Illot said afterwards.

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"Once I was up to speed with the tyres and getting used to it, I think I finished the run on the hards, one-tenth off Kimi, which is not too bad at the time.

“Then we went to the softs and I completely got caught out at the beginning by how much grip there was and also getting the tyres in. So struggled a bit then but then we came in, rebalanced and then I think with the tyre mileage I had, I didn’t do a bad time.

“Overall, building consistently, I was very happy with the session, got through all the run plan that we needed to and discovered the limitations we have as a team and as a driver as well," he added.

"Lots learned from my side and lots learned from the team. So yeah, big thanks to Alfa Romeo for giving me the opportunity.”

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This wasn't Ilott's first outing in an F1 car, having driven the 2018 Ferrari at Fiorano earlier this year.

And while practice sessions are often seen as the least exciting part of a Grand Prix weekend, for Ilott, the experience didn't disappoint. 

“I’ve had a few opportunities now, a few highs and lows as well,” he said. “From that side, to get the first experience of a session was a wow factor, but these machines over one lap are incredible.

"It’s unbelievable how fast they are, but I think it was quite nice for me after the session to step back and enjoy the moment afterwards.

“In the moment, you’re focused on what you’re doing. It’s not that the wow factor is gone, when I take a step back it’s there. It’s just when you’re in the moment, you have to make the most out of it.”